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Legion Rising - Projects from The Dark Works

77227 Views 341 Replies 50 Participants Last post by  Subtle Discord

An Introduction ~ Part 1

It came from the frozen northern Chaos wastes… Canada, that is. Welcome to this first in a long line of Text-&-Picture-Walls. (I tend to ramble sometimes, in a good way, with lots of nice photos.) Welcome to my muse, my passion, my obsession… my insanity. The Dark Gods whisper to me from the Warp, and I am compelled to obey. They let me see so many things I want to make real, but I only have one mind, two hands, and so many hours. Oh well, no rest for the wicked, no sleep for the weary… the whispers, the voices in my head, they won’t let me…

I’ve been gaming and playing Warhammer 40,000 on-and-off for over 20 years; the bulk of it, I attempted to collect and paint a Chaos army – Black Legion, more specifically. I always collected a modest force, but it was never as complete or elaborate as I wanted. And so, as it happens to many of us, life distracts us from our addictive little plastic soldiers, and they get tucked away. But for most, that really enjoy the hobby, we always come back. In early 2011 I dusted off my bits boxes, cases of miniatures, supplies, and took stock. I had some solid units that could use some polish to get started with, and a few simple scratch-build projects that never got done. As good a start as any.

I chose to do a cold-centric theme throughout the army; Most accent colours are in neutral or cool colours, and I extended the concept to the blue-grey highlights I use for the Black.

Not all bad guys wear black, but the Legion make a point of it; here's a small block of the army with highlights done, ready for some weathering.

time I wanted it to be different; I wanted to really create the unique, personal, and elaborate army that I could see in my mind when I was fifteen, and flipping the Realms of Chaos books. Only in recent kits has GW started to release what I would consider ‘proper’ Chaos Vechile kits; Love or hate the new Daemon Engines, they definitely have a good Chaos style/feel to them. Before this round of kits, Chaos got an extra sprew or two thrown into the box, and that was a major defining look for the faction. Just adding spikes does not a Chaos army make! I do some modest kit-bashing and converting on Troops and HQ to keep the army feeling unique; I like the rank-and-file models to each have a bit of flavor, but nothing too elaborate, yet. Now the vehicles, they offer such a wonderful large canvas to work with. One that has been neglected for far too long.

The idea was simple enough, just take the feel and look of Chaos used on the 'proper' Chaos Troops miniatures and illustrated in the books, and run with it. Read: Lots of banding/trimming, rivets, arrows, points, and layering... lots of layering. I had a general idea of where I wanted the look of the army to go, but now I needed more of a theme. I found direction in the movie Apocalypse Now from the The 1st of the 9th Air Cavalry. In the movie, they are a… ‘self-motivated’ unit that bombs around Vietnam in helicopters looking for good places to surf between (and during) the fighting. During aggressive unexpected assaults, they terrorizing the enemy by playing Wagner (Ride of the Valkyries) over loud speakers attached to the helicopters. Switch helicopters for some VTL vehicles and loud speakers for Dirge Casters and the start of my theme was forming; The 1st of the 9th Black Crusade – Heavy Armoured Cavalry. ('Heavy' so I had added excuse to really armour the vehicles) At the time, fliers were still off in the distance; I knew I wanted some for show at least, for the theme, but formal rules didn’t even exist. So, I choose to focus on a mechanized army to build a core, and then consider some kind of flying transport in the future. In Warhammer 40,000 it’s the feet on the ground that gets things done, after all.

So, I went about making my army look Chaos, without adding any spikes. I should also mention I really like working with Rare Earth (Neodymium) Magnets. Sooo useful!

This Rhino and Predator were the first serious Chaos creations I put together with an eye for the look I was going for. When they were done, I knew I was on to something.

One of my favorite materials is styrene plastic. If you’re trying to build something mechanical and angular, just put your mind to it and you can build it in plastic. Take it far enough and you can build actual working mechanics in nothing but styrene, if you wanted to. As a general tip about learning how to build in styrene, I suggest looking up general scratch building techniques. There are many tabletop gamers who are doing amazing things, but there is much more experience out there if you broaden your search. Military modellers have been scratch building models of exceptional detail for many decades; I just ignore the subject and absorb the technique.

My preferred painting method: Paint the harder stuff messy and quick to get it done looking the way I want. Then go in to carefully clean up the mess. Rinse-and-repeat until finished.

I put a lot of effort into the scratch-build, but these are playing miniatures, I choose to keep the paint job more straight forward and attainable. I let the building do the real talking.

Base colours + Lots of washing and glazing + Simple (but clean) 4-step layered highlighting + A bit of strategically placed blending + Some straightforward sponged chipping + A dusting with weathering powder = Now that's Black Legion without loosing my mind painting it.

By late 2011 I had some good progress on the core I was bringing together, and I figured I’d start showing off some of my work. I started a modest thread showing a few of my builds, and blathering about what I do and how I do it. Little did I know I was already too far down the Dark Path to ever find my way back… wanting to reproduce things, I started to work with RTV rubber making moulds for resin casting. Two things quickly happened: 1) I learned that I am quite good at making complex resin casting moulds. 2) I'm totally hooked to the process and really enjoy doing it! Now, as soon as I could actually replicate my work, that opened another door altogether...

Most of what you see here was just the start, stay tuned for Part 2: I'll show where this has all has lead, and talk about where it's going. For now, thanks for looking, thanks for reading, much more to come...
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A Late Night Update...

All work and no play makes Subtle go something something...

All work and no play makes Subtle go something something...

All work and no play makes Subtle go something something...

All work and no play makes Subtle go..

... go crazy?

Don't mind if I do! *Blragh gigergle splat bletch*

Errr... Studies have kept me quite busy but I finally found time to get all of the background work done, so just a quick late night post to celebrate The Dark Works waking from its slumber...

Something old, something new; pictures of the older kits mixed with the new Vehicle Accessories and Tracks.

The new kits are finally in proper production, and looking really good, if I do say so myself. With these smaller kits I can now offer a better selection of bundles along with single kits. I might simplify the selection in the future, but for now I think choice is good.

More coming soon (I hope) but for now, sleep ways is right ways. Thanks as always for past and future support of my work, and the modest studio that is gowning from it.
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My upcoming projects came up in another corner of the web, and I figured it was worth sharing. In the short term an obvious idea bubbled back up in my brain last week...

'Chaos Strong-Point'? Yes, I think that has potential; perhaps with a 'Twin-Linked Reaper Auto-Cannon' upgrade in the future.

These are really early sketches based on GWs kit to get the idea down on paper. I want to do more then just add Trim, I will be changing the form/shape to make it more unique along with other cosmetic changes. But naturally, it will retain the exact same footprint of a GW Defense Line. This project is of a much more realistic scope for the time being, so it should start taking form soon-ish.

I also recently got my hands on a new set of tools for the studio...

Greenstuff Industries ~ Tentacle Maker Tools are a welcome addition to my selection of building paraphernalia; I can't wait to start using them.

With these handy dandy little plates I'll be able to start adding all manner of tentacles, hoses, and pipes to future projects. I'll be sure to do an article-or-two about using them, once I get around to a build that can benefit from them.
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First impressions of the Tentacle Makers from GSI are that they work exactly as advertised and produce excellent tubes and tenticles of any diameter; my only complaint is that there needs to be more variety! Three plates just isn't enough variety. I consider several other patterns, if it were my product.

The 'Defense Point' will be a complete build, since it's a straight forward shape. With a Quad-gun it will be hard to do it at GW's price point, but I'll see what I can come up with. It will be heavy on resin for a simple kit, but at least resin is a reasonable material.

All praise be to the winter break! With the Industrial Design program I am enrolled in, the curriculum does not really suit a 'reading week' mid-term. In return we get a longer holiday break. Finally, some wide open studio time! But, before any new build projects for the studio, I'll definitely be spending some time at the painting bench...

With lots of painting projects to choose from, there's no problem filling up the painting bench with plenty of models.

Since I do have a little time to paint, and maybe chip away at an actually finishing an army that can see a table or two , I've gone back to my army list, again. Another shuffle; not the first, won't be the last. When the new Chaos Codex was released I got several of the new kits, which promptly started their wait in the long list of projects to complete. Since I had the model it seemed silly to ignore adding a 'Drake to the new list. It's not really the kind of flyer I'd prefer to add to my list, but you have to work with what you're given.

Most of the model is held together with thread the poster-tack, so at this point the pose is only 80% where it should be. Given how complex and overlapping many of the parts are, I'll be painting many parts before assembly to save my sanity some. Just too many nook-and-crannies to deal with otherwise.

Naturally, I couldn't leave the Heldrake kit stock, it needed some personalization.

Originally I wanted to do a major conversion and scratch build, to create a Heldrake that was closer to a fighter jet with a cockpit and strait lines. I still like the idea, but after dabbling with the kit the idea seemed possible, but very elaborate and involved. Later, I'll consider elaborate and involved (and maybe make a cast-able kit out of the effort), but right now I wanted to make something a little less ambitious. Adding a Magma Cutter nozzle to the mouth (Autocannon removed) for a bit of variety was a start, and Lasher Tendrils added some interest to the tail.

Taking inspiration from a Heldrake conversion by Rumplemaster Miniatures I wanted to give the model a more vertical pose and bring the head forward and down.

In the Rumplemaster conversion they chose to take a more... direct... route to cutting down the chest plate of the Drake and bringing the head forward. I chose to more carefully carve out the center armour plate with a Razor Saw, lower it, and reintegrate it as seamlessly as I could manage. This gave me room to lower the neck, and combined with a small change to the armour plate under the chin I was able to lower the head pose to add to the effect. A little brownstuff and some sanding filled in the old stand hole; I'm planning on adding a rod out of the rear foot as a stand post. I think the final pose will need to wait on the base; maybe I can get something tall enough for the foot to grip for support.

So after I take a little diversion on a few personal projects I'll be turning my gaze back on some studio builds. I want to try to keep painting no matter what, but I still have some build ideas clawing at the back of my brain that want to become real. I can't ignore the whispers from the warp, they keep calling me back to the Storm Eagle. But that, so they say, is another story for another day.
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The Heldrake returns, and other musings.

"Klaatu... verata... n... Necktie. Nectar. Nickel. Noodle. … … It’s definitely an ‘N’ word! … Klaatu… verata… N-*Cough*! … … Ok then. *Takes the book* ... Wait a minute! Everything's cool! … No really, I said the words. I did!"

*A huge portal opens and sucks Subtle out from under his rock, flinging him across several realities*

Thanks zxyogi, I do what comes naturally. Trust me, it's a blessing and a curse. Take for example this poor thread, I need to feed it some ration of content to remind it that better times are coming. Naturally, I’ve been very busy, but there are all sorts of things brewing in the background, I can assure you. It may get quiet, but the Basement Troll is always up to something. When we were last visited by our intrepid adventurer, a Heldrake was taking form…

The composition of the model with the base will make it a bit taller than the standard flying stand provided, but not enough to have me worried. It will loom over the army nicely once finished.

I’ve always been a fan of real stone for basing. It’s true that you can get some amazing results from a number of other products and/or techniques, but for me when I want a rock, I use a real rock. In this case, it meant I needed a very large and unique rock, and I’m enough of a collector to have a modest selection. I keep my eye open all the time for unique stones, rocks, and other potential basing materials. Even in a built up city you can find all sorts of interesting textures and objects in your environment; just one small scoop of some crushed gravel from a construction site or playground can provide ‘basing stone’ for years.

One key to working with stone is getting high speed rotary bits that can handle drilling hard rock. Dental drill bits are perfect, but there are many other bits that can handle the job. It’s not always necessary to pin a miniature down but if the only contact point/s with the base are on the stone you’re using, it really is better to drill a hole and pin the model down to the stone for added strength. In the case of the Heldrake, it needed a larger/deeper-than-average post hole for the foot to attach to the base. An extra win-win about using this much real stone on the base it that it is very bottom heavy and stable; there is little chance this model will get knocked over.

Changing the pose exposed too much of the ball-joint that is used to connect the parts; a simple cover up was in order.

It was a simple task to use some half round styrene rod and some of my ever-growing supply of pipes and hoses (Thanks to my GSI Tenticle Makers. Note: v2 coming soon) and give the offending spots a bit of a cover-up. I did file down the top of the sphere a bit before starting, just to lower the layer of pipes and hoses a bit.

The changes in this kit alter the pose and feel of the model dramatically, but they weren’t all that in depth compared to some of my projects; it came together surprisingly quickly.

A tip for filling in large holes and gaps like the original flying stand hole in the chest of the Heldrake; work in 2-3 layers. Fill the offending hole about 90% of the way with your preferred epoxy putty, and once that's cured go in with a thinner layer to finish the job. Then file, sand, and smooth the location to blend it away seamlessly.

The ‘Drake even got a good part of its paint job started before my workload forced me to put it aside. It, along with the entire army that will bask in the grim shadow it casts, are all poised to get actually finished come spring time. A few new paints and some Liquid Gold are on order to replace some ancient pots, and they should be just the incentive to get the brush going again.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t have more than a few building plans for The Dark Works. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to do a counts-as Aegis Defense Line, and it has seen some good progress…

After several iterations, this broad pattern was the final build that really worked well. To take the idea of defensive out of it, I plan to call it a Siege Line.

Obviously, there is still a lot of detailing that needs to be done. Once the main trim and rivets are done I’m going to add some cabling and some kind of Vox grill or screen. I’m still working it out and might do some sketches that I’ll show later. My drawing skills are improving dramatically with the projects I’m doing in college, so it’s only a matter of time before it migrates to my p’logs.

By popular demand, I will be starting work on a complimenting line of Loyalist vehicle kits; this Land Raider pattern is almost ready to start building once the studio wakes from its hibernation.

With this new Land Raider armour pattern I wanted to address one shortcoming of the original Chaos kit; the Sponson on the original kit is ‘locked’ in the front position by the detailing of the pattern. Now, this is my preference, but I can understand only too well that others might want it switched. So, after a bit of tweaking and adjustment, I was able to design a plate that can be swapped to switch the orientation of the Sponson. The layers of styrene that make up the side wall will need to be ever-so-slightly thicker than the current kit, but it won’t have a noticeable impact.

As always, this is only the tip of the iceberg; the voices from the warp are always chattering in my head, giving me ideas and inspiration. There are many other projects under consideration, and with my newly improving drawing skills I hope to be showing all sorts of concept sketches when I return to my studio work with more time.
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Well then, if that isn't a vote of confidence, I'm not sure what is. Thanks! I've got no plans on going anywhere, and I've got lots more planned for future kits, so please take your time. I'm sure I'll have some great things to choose from in production whenever you're ready to build.
Damn you GW! These new Imperial Knights just scream 'Mars Pattern'. Now they've got me wanting one of these models so I can make a 'Lucius Pattern' conversion kit. Like I didn't have enough to deal with, they go and do this to me. Too... many... ideas... not... enough... time!
1st of the 9th Progress

++++++++++Scanning …
++++++++++Scanning …
++++++++++Interference Level Shift: 1.13 – 0.98 – 0.925
++++++++++Signal Detect…
++++++++++Signal Lock…
++++++++++Processing: Decrypt…
++++++++++Opening Image Files…

++++++++++Displaying: Legion Formation Progress – 1st of the 9th Heavy Armour Cavalry

++++++++++ Interference Level Shift: 0.925 – 0.90 – 0.875
++++++++++Communications Protocol Request.
++++++++++Re-establishing Connection...
++++++++++Stand By…
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Counts-as Chaos Aegis Defense Line and Quad Gun

++++++++++Processing: Request…
++++++++++Interference Level Shift: 0.875 – 0.783 – 0.635
++++++++++Communications Protocol Validate.
++++++++++Signal Lock…
++++++++++Connection Established…
++++++++++Processing: Decrypt…
++++++++++Opening Image Files…
++++++++++Opening Transcribe Files…

Praise to you Lord Warmaster. Blessings to the Dark Gods that they have finally seen fit to calm the warp storms and permit us to once again support your efforts. Our Mechanicus have been busy with rites of maintenance and repair in preparation; production has been improved and plans are in place for further expansions and upgrades once the necessary equipment, materials, and labour can be obtained. Your plans shall not go astray.

During our time spent severed by the flares, efforts in exploration of the local system have discovered something unexpected. On the 7th and 9th planets in standard orbit, pieces of ancient structures, shrines, or monoliths were uncovered. Given our proximity to warp space, it is impossible to determine the true age of the artifacts and it is currently unclear who the original creators were. Though reduced to mere fragments of their original form, the shards that remain still emanate energies locked within the material. Our Sorcerers feel there could be much to gain if more shards can be recovered; securing any other fragments or associated artifacts found during your campaign should be a priority.

Objective Markers, made from soapstone originals cast in translucent resin and combined with a flickering LED 'tea light'; a step-by-step article of how these were made, coming soon.

Our Mechanicus are pleased to report that the Tutamen Pattern Siege Shields are complete and ready for manufacture; with the return of large scale material imports, assembly lines are being equipped and will soon be ready for proper production. The design template for a front-line close support anti-air platform is also nearing completion...

Almost ready for production from The Dark Works; Tutamen Pattern Mk.I Siege Wall sections and Morsus Pattern Mk.I Anti-Air Cannon platform.

Started several months ago, the final details and cleanup are done and the Siege Wall prototypes are ready for mould making.

The final build and testing of the Morsus Pattern Cannon will be done soon. The armoured main chassis provides added protection to the control, targeting, and weapon systems. Currently it can mount a single Las'Cannon or twin rotary Auto-Cannons.

This kit started with a straight forward idea that turned into something a little more elaborate. One more layer of detail and clean up (mostly on the weapons) and this kit will be ready for moulds.

With renewed material supply shipments, construction of current production templates is resuming. Some time will be required to build significant stockpiles ready for transport. Production of new templates will start once assembly lines are online.

An oversight request will follow in a future communication. The Mechanicus have several promising constructs that they wish to develop. They will request your input on their research in an effort to work on projects that will meet with your approval. Details will be provided.

+++++++++Message End…
++++++++++Connection Closed…
++++++++++Signal Lock…
++++++++++Stand By…

P.S. My sincere apologies to anyone who may have sent me a message recently and not received a reply. I've been somewhat anti-social recently as I worked on sorting several things out. I will be sitting down to send out many direct messages to inquiring parties over the coming days. Thanks, as always, for your interest and support. More to come.
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Objective Markers & Void Shield Generator

Forever lured to distraction by the voices from the Warp, I picked up several LED votive/tea candle lights a while back. The original simple plan was to create Wrecked Vehicle markers by adding blackened Poly-Fil or fake snow fibers to emulate smoke. I've seen it done several times and it's a great way to mark burning wrecks. Naturally, there's nothing stopping me from doing those in the future, but I thought there might be other uses for these cheap little lights.

With my starting army getting ever closer to actually being ready (someday), there is one thing I wish I could have dabbled with before I started painting; in hindsight I wish I had taken the time to use LEDs to light my Rhinos, Predators, and anywhere else I could manage. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of personality (who'd guess that?) and I'd want them in all of the vehicles so I'm no going to start now. As a consolation, I've come to the conclusion that, within reason, I can add lighting to everything else. Where I can, I'll add lighting effects to scenery, markers, and counters.

I read once, and I can't even remember where, about someone who went all out and lit a Cites of Death table, and that planted the seed in my mind. I've always wanted to do a city fight table, so it seems a perfect opportunity to give it a try. I'm hoping to even add strategically placed smoke generators that can be triggered to add to the lighting effects. The plan even has a practical angle; it will all make a great backdrop to photograph studio kits in an appropriate setting. But, that's all a story for another day. For now, I started a little more modest...

Soapstone is great for easy shaping and carving, but it's also very fragile; but that's not a problem for this purpose.

Naturally, you don't need to used soapstone, but I had some so it proved perfect for the job. Note the amount of dust that's created cutting up the soapstone; it's fine and light, so take care not to make more mess then needed. After sanding some of the sides smooth, I formed the pieces by chipping and cracking them into shape. It was easy to sketch out some simple patterns on the new surfaces and carve into the stone with my sculpting tools. I made sure to carve the lines nice and deep so they would catch the light well. For future attempts I'll try to take more care and make more intricate carvings.

Time to make quick-and-simple moulds of the original stones so they can be cast in plastic; enter the Instant Mold (IM).

I haven't had need to make press moulds the last while, so this IM has sat idle for quite some time. It's tricky to do 2-sided moulds like the ones I've done, but I wanted both sides of the stone. It took a few tries, but the results were good enough for my needs. I used the small blue pieces (chunks if a cut up pen) to create the pour gate and they were good-to-go. I didn't have enough IM to comfortably make all three, so the last one had to wait.

Time to make some translucent copies with the moulds that can catch the light; next up, Easy Cast and a few simple tools.

Unlike the casting resin I've been using, that cures in 15-45 minutes, Clear Cast takes 24 hours to cure enough to de-mould, and 48+ hours to cure to full hardness. Fine for a few one-off casts, but far too slow if you wanted to make several of something. It is also very sensitive to how it's mixed; if you're just a little off of 50/50 the final object will never harden.

While you want a clear plastic to let the light pass through, if it's too clear the light will pass completely through and the object won't glow as well. To fix this it's a simple matter of making the plastic slightly translucent. Adding a very tiny amount of White acrylic paint to the mix is all that it takes; you don't want too much (not even a full drop, just a dab) or it will start to mute the light. You can also change the colour of paint if you want to alter the colour of the light. Add dab of blue paint in the resin with a yellow light and it will glow green, for example. A green LED would be better, but it will work in pinch.

One translucent copy. Now it just needs some minor modification.

Making the pour gate for the mould the right size lets it fit right over the LED and catch as much light as possible. When hollowing out the center it's best to start with a smaller drill bit and work up to get the hole clean and accurate.

Now to turn it from a chunk of plastic into a shard of some ancient artifact.

It glows well enough without paint, but a layer of white primer will trap and reflect the light within the object. Even if the item is going to be dark like these arcane stones, it's good to start with white to make the glow as bright as you can. It will take many layers to completely block out the light from bleeding through thin spots in the paint. Consider this for the object you might want to create, fine details will be lost by all the layers of paint that will be needed. Slabs of stone with symbols carved in it makes a good choice; the rough stone looks fine with many coats of paint.

Base it up to match your army and it will come down to the final detail layers. I wish they could be a little bit shorter, but with how the internal parts are made in these tea lights, there's no easy way to make it shorter without rebuilding it from scratch. With a battery compartment, a wire, and a tiny switch, it wouldn't be hard to make something closer to a 40mm base it height, but for now the provided form will do fine. In the end it's an Objective Marker, so if it stands a little higher on the table it's not the worst thing. And they are almost 40mm diameter so they're at least a cohesive size.

They glow brightly enough to be very visible in a well lit environment and the flicker adds just a bit of animation to the effect; reminding you to pay attention to them on the table.

After painting the surfaces a strong Black that didn't leak any light, I added bit of Satin Varnish on the exposed clear plastic. This was to ensure there was a surface for the next wash layers to bond better with. To keep things simple I kept the flat surfaces pure Black and painted any exposed rough stone with Fortress Grey. I gave the Grey a wash with Agrax Earthshade, and then set to work with Nuln Oil. I used the Nuln along all of the edges of the Black to mottle and blend the transition between the Grey and the Black, and long all of the glowing edges. By carefully layering up the Nuln Oil along the edges of the Black that met with the glowing lines, the transparent nature of the Nuln Oil wash helps soften the edge so the glow is more intense in the center and fades towards the outside. repeat the process until you have the desired depth.

These little markers turned out really well considering how quickly they came together. They would be interesting to see with a bit more time taken to carve more elaborate symbols, but there's nothing wrong with a simple start. I want to try other ideas, and colours, in the future. Now, speaking of more elaborate, I've had an idea for a lit scenery piece for quite some time; it brings together the ideas of something built for a city fight table, some cool lighting for effect, and a structure that GW recently added to the game - the Void Shield Generator.

Emphasized in college, I did several iterations until I found a form that worked. The 3-sided concept couldn't open, the first 4-sided concept was too large, but the last was perfect.

I hope the fact that it's still just made of cardboard illustrates that this is still just an early scratch build, but really happy with the direction. I've been looking for a reason to put a 3" plasma globe into a piece of scenery for a while now. At first I figured it would be a Chaos portal or shrine (and that idea still has legs, but it will be an 8" globe when I get to it) but the Shield Generator seems like the perfect opportunity. I tried to make a structure that makes sense; a building you can enter at the base and climb an internal ladder to a hatch or door that opens to the battlements. The energy field that is being generated to create the Void Shield is created in the base to be contained and focused by the pillars that will be detailed out to look the part.

It should be simple enough to devise a magnetic clasp that will let the model open for access to the globe for battery swaps.

I managed to find a battery powered globe that's inexpensive ($11 CAD before shipping) that runs on 4 AAAs, but can still plug in when possible. My testing with four 700mAh rechargeable AAA batteries gets about 3 hours 15 minutes of non-stop run time, and the light effect stays strong to the end before turning off all at once. Higher mAh batteries should get more runtime, but I'm not sure just how much. The final build is a little shorter than a GW Bastion, it's footprint is about the same as a Vengeance Weapon Battery, and there's enough room on the battlements for three 40mm bases. Obliterator perch anyone?

Like a few of my ideas right now, they are getting larger and more ambitious and require more consideration. I really like this idea for a kit, but it's size makes it daunting. Like the Stormeagle concepts, the image in my mind is just too good to let go of, so I've been figuring out how the heck I will proceed with these larger ideas. I need to make these things real, if only to shut up the voices from the Warp that coax me on to build and create. Have faith Loyalists, things are in The Works.

I've already created a large enough wall-o'-text-&-photos for today, so I'll save my other ramblings for another time. As always, more to come and comments, questions, critiques, and general banter is always welcome. Thanks for the kind words, encouragement, and feedback.
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*Munches on the cookie happily ~ Subtle likes cookies*
Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. I've got some new equipment arriving in the studio today that will take my production to a new level. I'll be sure to do an article, or several, once I'm up-to-speed with my new toys. More to come, to say the least.
Introducing: Servitor Zing

So, I have/had plans for some more in depth articles that I really want to write, but I'm starting to feel like the white rabbit from Alice In Wonderland, frantically bolting forward in search of the rabbit hole, looking at my watch, panicking about being late. There's just never enough time to do everything I want to do; too... many... good... ideas! The damn whispers from the Warp keep speaking to me, and it's only gotten worse lately. (more on that in a moment) Time will have to tell just what I can cram into the schedule; time writing is time taken away from building and casting, and I have so much I want to build and cast! If I could just hide in the Warp now-and-then and get a few extra months, that would be perfect. *Shakes his fist at the fixed linear time stream*

Oh well, I'll make the most with the time I have left before the cruel mistress that is college commandeers my life, and see what I can make real. With my new equipment I'm eager to get as much build time in as I can manage. I has so much potential it's got me rethinking old designs and coming up with all sorts of new ideas and uses. Let me explain... A few months ago my attention was drawn to CNC blade cutters. I had looked at them years ago, but they were either too expensive or unimpressive in what they could do. I'm not cutting shapes for scrap-booking, I need a certain level of precision and total control. Other options come with strings attached; laser cutters and styrene don't like to play together easily and create poison gas, high resolution CNC milling machines are expensive, high-res 3D prototypers are more expensive, and small-scale styrene injection moulding is not 'small'. So, after having my attention brought back to blade cutters, I did some research and became very encouraged with what I was seeing; these are not the cutters of even 3-5 years ago. After lots of reading, and many nights sleeping on it, I finally invested in a KNK Zing Air cutter (aka: Servitor Zing) and my build technique has forever changed...

CAD Design + Servitor Zing = Loyalist Land Raider kit prototype is well on its way.

I purposely held off this build waiting for this cutter; I wanted to used it as a test to see if the Zing would be up to the task, and it hasn't disappointed. After many years of practice I am confident in my ability to cut accurately by hand; I've received too much good feedback on the quality of my cut work to be completely delusional. (just partially; but that's something else altogether) But, I'm still human and only so precise; there is no way I could come close to the accuracy that this cutter can achieve. I'm still climbing the last of the learning curve to get it cutting certain shapes properly, but I think the results are more then promising and speak for themselves. The swapping plate for the sponson/door in particular benefits from the improved accuracy; they line up perfectly.

It's even given me a use for some of my overpriced college textbooks; they make a perfect slab to support the cutting mat as it travels back-and-forth. :)

Now, this is a very clean straight line pattern and there's nothing wrong with that, it's very Imperial feeling; but, computer control cutting opens the door to many shapes and concepts that I had little choice but to avoid in the past. Articulate curved lines and arcs? forms that need to be near-100% accurate? Repeating patters that would drive me to madness to cut by hand? Yes please! I'll have some of each! And it's all automated once I've set the Servitor to work, so while it's cutting the parts I can give extra concentration to actually building the part/s. It really is almost like have another pair of hands. It does take some extra effort to turn the CAD designs into a cutting pattern, but it's worth the investment in the end.

Servitor, modify thyself; CAD Design with challenging curved lines + Servitor Zing = Stylish new faceplate for Zing

So, for the sake of experimentation I designed a straightforward Eye of Horus icon that made ample use of nicely curved lines to see what Zing could do. Cutting something like this by hand would be painstakingly slow at best, and down right impossible at worse. Getting the curved lines precise and matching from layer to layer would be completely maddening, to say the least. Now, letting Servitor Zing tackle the problem solves many of the issues with these complex shapes. It does have limitations, since it is a physical blade that is cutting the material, it acts like one; it does deform the plastic a bit as it cuts, and an 'offset' setting is needed to cut clean corners to compensate for the size of the blade. Some shapes need a bit of extra manual cleanup, but nothing any worse then hat I had to do with parts cut by hand.

As always, thanks everyone for your feedback, encouragement, and good will; comments, questions, critiques, and any other musings are always welcome. An extra thanks goes out to the people who have supported my humble studio with purchases. It is all of you who have made it possible for me to take these ideas, make them real, and then take it farther then I ever could have expected. The vast majority of studio profits have been reinvested in the equipment that will help me continue to improve and expand what I do. Not everything is as glamorous as Servitor Zing, but it is all laying the foundation for many more wonderful future plans.

The specter of college is looming, but I have much more to come over the coming weeks, months, and years. This year I will be starting working with digital creation methods (digital rendering and 3D modeling) and I know it will be what evolves my little studio to the next level. Outsourced rapid prototyping high quality components to add to my building is just around the corner... relativity speaking. :)

Thanks for joining me on my journey into the unknown; that first step can be intimidating.
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Thanks guys for the kind words. This new device really is an evolution for my building method.

I've considered building a more elaborate vacuum-form setup (as you say, they're not that elaborate) and I was even lucky enough to get a large piece of round-punched steel grill for the vac-plate, but I don't do enough of it to warrant the time and effort. If the right project comes along I'll be glad to use it as an excuse to build a new contraption. :)

Yep, Servitor Zing is quickly turning into a better-then-expected investment. I'm holding out a final verdict until I've had a chance to run it through it's paces with more complex forms (arrows being a key one) and smaller scale, but so far it's handling what I ask of it like a champ.

You bring up a good question, and one of the main consideration of any cutter; just how thick of material can it handle? The biggest indicator is in the Grams Force that the cutter can apply.

The first machine that got me researching these devices was rated for 300gf cutting. From what I read, it would struggle to cut even 0.5mm plastic, even with several passes.

The Zing is a mid-range machine rated for 750gf cutting and it makes a real difference. It has no problem cutting 0.4mm and 0.5mm plastic with 4-6 passes. Compared to passes 3-4 by hand, it's not bad at all. Combined with almost all-metal construction, wide 14" cutting area, bluetooth connectivity, and even voice control, it's impressing me so far.

Lighter plastics benefit from (or require) the 0.5mm thick mat to mount on for cutting. thicker materials don't need the cutting mat, I'm guessing you could carefully squeeze 2mm plastic in without the mat, maybe even 2.5mm but I wouldn't got farther.

So far the heaviest I've cut is 1mm sheet on the mat (fits snugly in the cutter) with 8 passes, and it takes a bit of firm hand cutting to finish the job. I'd say it's getting 2/3 of the way through. I could do more passes, but I choose to spare the blade/machine the extra strain. Frankly, just having the pattern automatically 'scribed' to the surface is massive labour savings, so I'm more then happy with the results.

KNK (Klic-N-Kut - don't let the name fool you) also has another model called the MAXX that is rated to 1,500gf cutting. With double the power I'm sure it could handle 1mm with several passes, but it also comes at almost double the price point. While not exactly cheap, the Zing seems to be an excellent price-to-performance ratio if it's the kind of device you're interested in.
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A bit of insomnia to fuel a late night sneak peak of the 'Raider on the bench; another round of rivets and some final cleanup and it will be ready for the RTV rubber. Everything is very loosely fit with just a few bits of poster tack for the photos, it looks good here, but will be even better once it's glued down in final resin form.

Land Raider (name to be determined) Mk.II Armour Kit - work in progress.

More to ramble about later, but I wanted to pop this up before I shuffle off. Bedways is rightways now my good droogs, so viddy well, and we'll speak again after some shuteye.
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A bit if fictional musing

*Subtle steps out from the shadow cast by college and into the light; he squints and shields his eyes as he adjusts*

Classes are going very well, even if they are completely grueling. Sketching, drawing (so… much… drawing… and… sketching), 3D modeling, more model making, and I’m doing everything I can to get everything I can out of it. Then there’s less enjoyable (Ugh, statistics) but it’s all getting me very eager to get going with my own thing. It’s still a few years off, but what I’m learning really is going to push what I do to a much larger scope and scale then I had ever considered. Keep lurking and you’ll have the inside track on my misadventures. This spring/summer should be fun! *Maniacal laugh*

For the short term, winter break is coming soon and I will be jumping on doing a large casting run in early December, and getting projects on the bench into production. Yes, the new Land Raider kit is at the top of that list. I wish I had time to get something rolling sooner, (itching to build/paint something fierce) but it just isn’t in the cards when classes are on. School is a harsh mistress, but the lessons will pay dividends.

Now, if there’s one thing I can find some time for, it’s a bit of writing. I spend several hours a day on a bus getting to-and-from campus, so why not write some fiction? To mark the 3 year anniversary of the original Legion Rising (started 11-11-11 at The Bolter & Chainsword) I present the first of my Chaos fiction short stories. I’m not sure how often I’ll add to this side of my ever growing alter to Chaos, but I do have plans for other stories. I hope it meets with your approval.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who follows my work, lurking or otherwise. I hope to do nothing but expand and improve on the foundation that you all helped me build. I would never have thought the encouragement and feedback from a WIP thread could generate so much momentum, but here I am, considering nothing but bigger-and-better for the future.


Klec knelt low and to the side of the entry way, in a series of fluid motions he affixed his bayonet to his Bolter and drew a second hooked blade from its sheath. He closed his eyes and listened to the Loyalist carefully advancing down the corridor; he visualized the Marine’s motions as they moved, waiting for his moment to strike. There was caution in the Loyalist’s movements and Klec hoped to exploit this with an aggressive strike to start their exchange. Many times a good defensive strategy was not necessary if one made a decisive first strike and quickly laid their opponent low; Klec had claimed several trophies in this way. The Loyalist reached the entry way and paused, surveying the dimly lit room. Klec could practically feel the presence of the Marine through the wall, but he held his attack for a moment longer, waiting for the Loyalist to lift a foot to take their next step…

“Warmaster favor me.” Klec quietly spoke his modest request as he began his attack. His eyes snapped open as he pivoted and rotated on his left foot into the entry way, spinning around to add extra momentum to the first blow. The Loyalist was indeed surprised, but reacted quickly enough to deflect the blow downward; the bayonet missed its mark, skipped down the Marine’s thigh, and managing to jam itself into the gap behind the armour plate that protected the knee. Klec drove his weight forward until he could feel the blade pierce through the seam. In the next motion he shrank back, pulling the blade free in a gush of bio-pneumatic fluid and blood; without hesitation he wheeled back around for another strike with his hooked blade, counting on the shock of the first wound to give him the advantage. Exposing his back a second time was a calculated risk, but from the moment he had been aware of the approaching Marine, Klec could feel a wonderful frenetic energy building. Now, the sensation completely embraced him, goading and teasing at first, and then offering what seemed the promise something long forgotten, if he would just give in to the sensation. His reality seemed to slow, and the blade sang as it cut through the air; the sensation seemed to be connected to it, and it was all Klec could hear, all he could know, at that moment.

The Loyalist dropped back to his good leg and prepared his reprisal, clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth hard to steady his nerve. He would not give this foe the satisfaction of even a grunt in pain. He had used the butt of his pistol to defect the first strike, but his Chainsword was at the ready and it quickly growled to life as it rose to parry the Traitor’s second attack. The sword met the blade and they locked for a moment…

Klec was transfixed, the moment seemed endless and in the infinity he could see everything as fractured slivers in time. His blade met with the sword and he thought it curious that he could perceive and feel each tooth of the Loyalist’s weapon bite and grind as it searched for flesh to cleave into. He could admire it as the inanimate predator that it was; a tool that has no morals, only a function; one that it excelled at. Klec watched the individual sparks fly as the two weapons danced closely for a moment. He watched as sword skipped and bounced down his blade and with an almost gleeful jump, leapt over the guard of his weapon. The Chainsword continued its relentless hunt for flesh as Klec watched it with mesmerized fasciation; it rode up his left forearm, chips of black pigment and sparks flying from the path it left. The teeth of the blade dug into the crook of his elbow and he smiled as it bit into his flesh. He thought it peculiar that he could feel each tooth of the weapon, as they bit and gnashed at the muscle and sinew of his arm; he listened to the weapon’s song change key, the engine labouring slightly as it set to work on the bone.

Klec embraced the bite of the sword leaning in for a moment before dropping hard to bring his good elbow down on the wounded knee of the Marine. Recoiling, the Loyalist stumbled back and quickly shifted to find his balance. Klec dropped back, way, and into a defensive curled posture. His left arm, severed just above the elbow, hung on desperately by a strip of armor and mangled flesh; he continued to watch in ecstatic fascination as his blood sprayed in large gouts from the wound, the path of each drop fractured into an infinite number of moments. He watched as the crimson puddled, forming a smooth surface that shifted and rolled as each drop struck the growing pool. He watch, his head swimming with the sensation, as the drops changed from rich red to the deepest black. The wound gushed, continuing to weep tears of acidic black ichor for a few moments; the fluid hissed and bubbled wherever it landed, instantly burning and corroding anything it touched. Klec could feel it seeping up into his arm as if entering through the wound and spreading through his left arm and shoulder. While this dark gift was to be his, it did not seem that it would grant him immunity until he knew it well; as it spread and infused with him the searing pain was beyond comprehension. He cast his weapon aside as the experience debilitated him and began wailing with each beat of his hearts, their relentless rhythm forcing the ichor deeper into his flesh. As Klec sang his song of beautiful agony a series of boney protrusions erupted from his wound…

The Loyalist had slumped back with the Traitor’s strike to his leg. Where he could hobble on his wounded knee before, it was now shocked into near uselessness and the searing pain forced him to take several moments to regain his focus. He knew he had dealt his foe a telling wound, and they were shrinking away into a defensive stance. This would need to be resolved quickly, but he knew that wounded prey could prove unpredictable. He steadied himself as Klec began to wail, thinking at first how pathetic a specimen this Marine was; the wound was horrendous, but the reaction seemed extreme. He readied himself to silence this Traitor and lurched forward as he lifted his weapon. As he advanced his foe unexpectedly threw his bolter aside, their wailing and screaming became to become almost unsettling, and he paused as the Marine slumped away from him and clutched at his arm in uncontrolled agony. Had the wound to his arm obscured a lucky strike on their torso causing them to react this way? No, this was something different, and he stared for a moment in horrified fascination, as if a whisper in the back of his mind called to him, imploring him to watch and perhaps better understand.

Klec convulsed uncontrollably as the stump of his severed arm erupted first with long talons, then thick boney digits, and finally a full hand and forearm. The form grew and swelled at a surprising rate, with fresh bone, sinew, tendons, muscle, and skin replacing the severed limb in a matter of moments, before it increased further in size and strength. The skin of his new limb was finely scaled and virtually black, with iridescent hints of dark blue in the muscular definition; even after the limb had reformed the colour and texture spread up his arm like a stain. The agony pushed Klec to transcendence; as he felt the new limb expand outward taking form to replace his severed arm, he could also feel it plunge deeper inward as his hearts carried the burning ichor through his body. He pulled himself up from his knees, staggered, and slumped against the wall; each beat of his hearts punctuating the passing moments with the searing pain of the ichor spreading, but he was beginning to find clarity in the searing sting and composure in the face of the pain. There was an ecstasy in the agony, if one was willing to embrace it and make it their own. The sensation seemed almost conscious, silently encouraging Klec to drink deep of the pain, and learn to find strength and guidance in the experience. Klec came to see, if only the tiniest glimpse, the will of his Dark Masters as their attention briefly turned to him.

“… Emperor protect...” the Loyalist unconsciously uttered the words under his breath as his faculties quickly returned; the Marine had seen more than enough, he shook off the taunting whispers in the back of his mind and raised his sword as his vox barked “Cursed abomination! Purge the heretic!” he swung with an aggressive attack aimed at decapitating the Traitor, intending to quickly finish the encounter. Klec’s new hand snapped out with an instinctive will, purposely catching the growling blade as it swung in. The teeth bit and chewed into the new flesh and the black ichor gushed forth to meet them; the acidic fluids were quickly carried into the weapon’s inner workings, and just as quickly it set to work corroding and disintegrating the weapon from the inside. The hungry growl of the sword’s motor promptly went silent as it succumbed to damage inflicted by the fluids. The Marine attempted to swing his Bolt Pistol to bare, but Klec caught his wrist with his other hand and forced his aim away from its mark; he fired two shots, and the first shell clipped Klec’s helmet, severely cracking the faceplate and knocking his head backward. Still lost in the experience of receiving his dark gift, the force of the strike caused Klec’s very psyche roll and tumble backward, as if slipping from a ledge into a bottomless abyss. If he were to fall into this perceived infinity he would take the soul of his foe with him as a final offing to his Dark Masters; but Klec brought his tumbling existence to right, snapping his head forward in a vicious head-butt. The blow broke a large portion of his damaged helmet away, exposing the left side of this face to his foe. Unable to properly brace himself with his wounded leg, the Loyalist faltered and dropped to his knees as he grappled with Klec. He steeled his will and exerted all of the force he could muster, trying to regain his footing, just as he became aware of a strange itching in his right wrist that quickly grew into an intense burning.

Klec loomed over his opponent, forcing the Loyalist’s center of gravity back and keeping him on his knees. The black ichor released by the wound caused by the Chainsword spilled down the weapon and worked its way into the wrist joints of the Marine’s armour; it quickly broke though and began to hungrily eating into the flesh it found underneath. He could feel the concerted efforts of the Marine become more frantic and desperate as the sensation made itself known; he smiled to himself as he came to understand that the Loyalist could not find focus in the pain, and it caused their psyche to falter. Klec tore the disintegrating sword from the Marine’s grasp and flung it away. The wound that was made by the weapon began to knit and heal with the same impetus that originally grew the limb, but Klec was oblivious. The pale skin of his face began to mottle and darken, turning black as the gift spread to consume a large swath of his head; his left eye darkened and then suddenly lit with an unsettling blue light. His gaze drilled down on the determinedly silent Marine, “Cursed?!” the voice that spilled from his shattered helmet was his, but the tone was strange, even to him. “Behold, we have been chosen for... blessing!” As he spoke Klec’s speech resonated, seeming to be a blend of his own voice with an unsettling chorus of others. “Our Dark Lords deem this heretic worthy of favor… How will your Corpse God aid you?” He did not expect a reply, but he paused a moment all the same, before plunging a single talon into the Marine’s throat; he contorted his new hand, twisting the talon vertically and drove it downward; like a daemon’s blade the talon’s edge was remarkably keen and pierced flesh, bone, and armour with frightening ease. To his credit, the Loyalist had not given Klec the satisfaction of a single utterance of pain or discomfort.

Klec held this macabre pose for several moments after the struggle had ceased. “Lords accept this offering of a forsaken brother. His death was good and deserves praise.” The words echoed and seemed to orbit his head. He dropped the Marine to the ground and began to move with instinct, as if in a dream. While the frenzy was fading, his reality was altered, and he was finding it rather distracting; this would take some getting used to. He retrieved his Bolter, blade, and arm; his flesh in particular would make a wonderful totem to as a token to celebrate his gift. Of the Marine he claimed his Bolt Pistol and helmet, head-and-all; the helmet would require retrofit, but it would make for a good replacement. The skull would make an excellent addition to his trophies.
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New Projects in The Works - Provide Some Feedback

*Subtle munches happily on the cookie* Thanks! I like cookies.

Input and feedback requested; if you're still reading by the end (or want to skip to the end) I would appreciate some direction from the people I want to appeal to with my studio - you, the reader; short term plans are in place, but I could use some help prioritizing some long term projects and could use some perspective. More on this later.

After receiving my copy of Imperial Armour 13 several weeks back it quickly became apparent that I would be enticed lured forced to add to my collection. The merits of the units can always be debated, but with so many great rules for Chaos consolidated into one dark tomb, there's just so much potential with the sheer volume of choices presented that it can give a Chaos collector and player the giggles. I had no choice but to succumb to the whispers and taunts that started as soon as I opened that infernal book; and a few days ago my dispatch arrived...

One part addition to my personal collection, one part addition to the studio for design purposes; friendly old Saint Nicholas is going to be good to me this year.

I'm a tread-head, what can I say? I'm surprised I lasted this long before succumbing to the temptation of adding a Sicaran to my army; but daaamn, it's one huge chunk of resin.

I'm still not totally sold on the practicality of the openings in the armour on the front of the Sicaran (my design for Armoured Ceramite might close/cover them) but the overall look and form of the model has grown on me more-and-more since it was released. There are lots of nice lines and surfaces to work with, I'm sure I can do both an armour upgrade kit and a lighter trim kit for variety. I really wish the tracks were loose; attached as they are now, it's very hard to see a way to give them a Chaos makeover. As a consolation, it's good that they are not covered in Imperial iconography.

One of my main worries was that the Rapier Battery would have a considerably larger footprint compared to the Obliterators they would be supplementing and/or replacing.

It's not going to be a problem it seems; they compare very well to an Obliterator. I wanted my model to very closely match the footprint and profile of an official FW Rapier. Most of my kits supplement a current model, so scale isn't an issue, I just fit the model, but in this case I wanted to get it very close. The Graia Pattern battery that I got is slightly narrower than the Chaos Marine model that I'll be creating, but that will be easy to add during the build. The Dark Works kit will be considerably different but properly inspired by this original.

Last but most certainly not least, the corner stone of my soon('ish)-to-be Air Calvary; a Chaos Fire Raptor gunship. Again, wow... that's a ton of very sexy resin! *Swoon*

As much as I would have liked to, there would be no way I could make a Fire Raptor from scratch the same way that Forge World has; several parts are just massive and beyond the scope of my studio. Due to the scope of the changes done by the 'Raptor kit, if I really wanted one, getting it from FW made more sense. This kit will pull its weight however, as I will be making conversion kits for the Fire Raptor (Armoured Ceramite and Chaos themed trim) and using it to help in my Chaos Storm Eagle build.

So, while these kits will add to my army collection, they are also strategic purchases that I can make use of in the studio. All of this, along with items already on the bench, plus other projects and ideas, and all of the other inspiration in IA 13, means there's a lot on my plate, table, spilling to the floor...

Still with me? Wow... really? Ok, so here's where you come in.

I do have some semblance of a plan; I know what I want to build and have a reasonably consolidated list. What I need is an order of manufacture; I want to build it all, and have every plan to, but I can do it in any order, so here's your chance to give some direct input.

Short term goals (next 4 weeks during mid-term break):​

  • Chaos Siege Line (ADL counts-as) - This kit is done, it just needs improved moulds made.
  • Loyalist Land Raider Armour - Also finished and awaiting mould making; moulds for this kit are more complex, however.
  • Morsus AA-Gun (Quad Gun counts-as) - On the bench and very near complete before it needs moulds made.

Short term, I have these and a general casting run to replenish my stock. I'm hoping to have no complications to stop any of these from getting done before classes start up again. I won't get started actually building until spring, but I will be doing concept sketches and drawings and I want to know what to focus on. In no particular order, most of my longer term studio projects will include:

  1. Chaos Storm Eagle - A full kit that will build off a Storm Raven base model. Very elaborate and involved build.
  2. Chaos Fire Raptor - A Chaos Trim kit and a Armoured Ceramite kit will be a good start. Modestly elaborate build.
  3. Chaos Sicaran - Again, I will start with a Chaos Trim kit and Armoured Ceramite kit. Modestly elaborate build.
  4. Chaos and Loyalist 'Dozer, Siege Ram, Destroyer Blades - Rhino and Land Raider chassis compatible. Reasonably easy build.
  5. Chaos Rapier Battery - Ectoplasma cannon, Hades auto'cannon, and Cyclotrathe beamer. Modestly elaborate build.
  6. Chaos and Loyalist Jetbikes - Counts-as bikes as an update to the current choices. Modestly elaborate build.
  7. Pintol Combi-Weapons - Vehicle mounted Bolters, Flamer, Plasma, and Melta; a long standing idea that still needs to be made real. Deceptively difficult build due to the scale.
  8. Relic Weapon Systems - Starting with the Predator I want to create some Relic weapons for various platforms. Reasonably easy build.
  9. Loyalists Trim Kits - Rhino Trim Kits to start, and expand from there. Reasonably easy build.
  10. Dark Mechanicus Construct Kit - Sentinel-like legs and robotic/mechanical components to improved Maulerfiend builds. Still only a concept, modestly elaborate build.
  11. Chaos Battlefield Debris - Tanglewire, Tank Traps, and Barricades done with my Chaos Trim treatment. Reasonably easy build.
  12. Void Shield Generator - This will be a piece of neutral scenery, not Chaos specific, intended for various armies. This will be a massive build, but an awesome final kit.
  13. Chaos Kits 2.0 - Taking advantage of Servator Zing, new Rhino, Predator, and Land Raider kits are planned. Modestly elaborate build/s.
  14. Chaos Knight - The Imperial Knight kit begs to be defiled into a war machine of Chaos, so it shall be done. A very elaborate build.
  15. Chaos Renegades - IA 13 opens the door to proper allied Renegades and all the toys they bring to the aid of Chaos. Wide range of levels.

These projects will start in the spring (May 2015) and there's no way they will all get done next summer, but I need to start somewhere. Some builds will be much more in depth than others, so how quickly some things will be made will vary depending on the project.

So, what on this list stands out to you? What would you like to see made real first? If you could pick a few from the list, which ones? If you could add something to the list, what would it be? Input, feedback, inspiration, ideas, let me have it! It's still several months off, and I can never completely promise just how things will ultimately come together, but I will be starting my brainstorming soon; help me give it some focus and direction.

So much more to come...
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A bit of distraction before waking up the studio for some work.

Note: anyone reading this between now and spring is more than encouraged to add their $0.02 on what they would like to see, to help me with direction and motivation. Everything on the list is planned in some way and I'm going to make as many of them real as I can manage; some will take longer than others and might need to wait until I'm done school and have more freedom to step things up another notch, or several notches. Some (not many) may get lost along the way and others added (still some ideas lurking and/or forgotten) but I want to see how far I can take this. But, with so many ideas blowing me in so many directions it can be hard to find a course.

So, last exam on Tuesday and I'm happy to say it seems like I haven't wasted any tuition yet; the few classes I may have worried about (Ugh... Statistics) didn't implode on me and my journey on the road of higher learning continues. After catching up on lots of sleep I started to work getting things tidied up in the studio (School has a way of taking over every surface) and it will be ready to get back to work tomorrow. But, as I was getting things sorted I unearthed a few half-built projects and I'm reminded that I have a few things still nagging me to be addressed, not to mention some new resin that's begging to be inspected. Since the Decimator is a IA 13 unit, it didn't seem a complete frivolous distraction to spend a few hours finishing the build. Looking back, it was October 2012 that I got the model, so it seems overdue that it gets finished.

Am I the only one who buys a Forge World model with eager anticipation, only to be so intimidated by it, that sits for months and years? I even know it's going to happen, but I like to have the plastic for its potential, even if it needs to wait, or intimidates me, to the point of procrastination. I want it there for when I finally have the conviction to attempt the build.

Something old, something new, and something... err... broken.

So, as a brief hobby therapy diversion I took some time to get most of my long overdue Decimator finished (still need to finish the Butcher Cannon/s and Conversion Beamer) and get a rough assembly of the Sicaran done. The Sicaran is so straight forward (in theory) to build it really wasn't much work to get it this far; it will be enough to start some early work on later designs, and to sit looking cool beside my other tanks.

The odd looking device to the right was (key word) a very useful tool that I used while doing the hose details on the Decimator, but I managed to break it just as I finished using it. I wanted to write about it and do a bit of demonstration, but the breaking of the tool kind of put a crimp in that plan. To explain, it is used to pick up a tiny amount of super glue with capillary action and place it very carefully where you want it; very good for getting glue just where you want it and/or in hard to reach places. It can be purchased, but I made mine, so I'll be sure to show it again when I've made a replacement.

Oh Forge World, why do you force me to love to hate you? Or is it hate to love you?

Forge world gets so much right. Everything is subjective, so personal taste aside, FW makes some great kits. The product they produce sets the bar that I strive to meet and exceed in my builds and prototypes for The Dark Works. Having seen the Sicaran I knew I would like it in person cosmetically; I think it's great looking and I can't wait to start making designs for it. I've already got ideas brewing.

It's the fit the drives me crazy! As mentioned before, it's a very simple build to get it this far: four pieces to create a center hull 'box', two massive slabs for the treads and the hull surrounding them, and the main turret. It's so straight forward I don't understand why it has a small flaw in how the parts come together that creates a gap in the rear of the assembly. Warping and mould lines are one thing; not wonderful, but usually fixable. But this is just strange fit in what appear to be straight parts, and it's annoying in a premium product. Beyond this gripe, the kit is nice, and it's going to be a pleasure to turn it into a rolling war-alter of Chaos.

The Decimator kit is virtually made to be magnetized. Not that I need much excuse to find a use for some neodymium magnets.

At first I planned to add magnets only for weapon swapping, but I got so caught up in trying to find a pose that I liked I decided to add some extra magnets to the shoulder of Decimator; in this case the magnets show how great they can be at making hinges. I was sure to use tall magnets so I could make a hole-in-post to add to the stability of the join.

Now the Decimator can change between, evil stalking pose, standard shooting pose, and "You want some of this?!" shooting pose. Excellent!

The Decimator in contrast to the Sicaran assembled very well with no real surprises. In fact, it offered so much freedom in the joints, it was hard to choose a pose from top to bottom. I ended up drilling a pin through each joint to create a puppet-like structure to work with while I experimented with the pose; these added extra strength when i finally did glue it into place. The kit is so great with its level of detail I didn't find a need to go over-the-top in embellishing it; just a few spikes an some extra hoses.

I'll just add one-or-two turned into many more. Too bad it all gets so obscured by the armour plates that are added over top.

It all started with the damage to the cast; a few pipes had broken away at some point and I wanted to replace them to clean things up. A perfect job for the stockpile of hoses and pipes I've been building up ever since I picked up my GSI Tentacle Makers. Once I got those done I liked the look so much I couldn't help but fill out a few more to add to the effect, and a bunch to fill out the 'neck' of the construct. It's one of those things that you can keep going-and-going with, and overdo it if you're not careful. I think I added enough to embellish, but not clutter it too much.

A little more work on the base and this little monster will be ready for primer. Still needs some Butcher Cannons and a Conversion Beamer, but they deserve special treatment.

I didn't go too over-the-top in the pose, even though the kit offers so much freedom in the legs. The kit is so all-round bad-ass it can be very successful with just a but of twist in the hips and a lean of the torso. I did take my time posing the legs so that the balance of the model works, but it's not dramatic, more plodding and deliberate.The magnets offer enough freedom to change the pose up nicely depending on the load out. As mentioned, I still need some Butcher Cannons and a Conversion Beamer, but I want to take some time to do some extra conversion work on them. The Beamer needs to be appropriately 'Death Ray', and the Butcher Cannon provided as-is from Forge World is really lacking in 'Butcher'. the main body of the weapon is ok, but I think it needs a more intimidating looking barrel. I won't be able to start painting this until spring, but I'll get the primer on it so it can have a good long sit to cure out. This it going to be fun, if a bit intimidating, to paint. Good thing it comes apart so much so it will be easy to get at the tricky spots.

Ok, enough distractions (for now) time to get back to getting things into production mode. lots of casting to do over the weekend and the coming days followed by some serious mould making to open the door for more casting. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't work, but it's a different kind of work when it's tapping into a passion. The whispers from the warp taunt me to create and produce for my fellow Warmasters, so I am compelled to obey.

Thanks as always for reading. Questions, comments, input, critiques, feedback, criticisms, and general banter are always welcome. Much more to come...
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Much more in depth update/s coming shortly, but in the mean time...

Bah, bah, Black Sheep have you any wool? Yes sir. Yes sir. Three bags full! (Loricatus Hvy. Mk.II moulds are almost complete)
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Loricatus Mk.II Pattern Heavy Armour

It took longer to get finished then I had hoped, but it came together nicely once I had the time to focus on it. Maybe I'm being too critical, but there is a minor issue with how some of the parts are casting, and I'll talk about that more later to look for some feedback. However, this update was going to be a single post, but as I was compiling pictures, the moulds for this kit kept getting more-and-more complete, giving me more pictures to add, and so this will mutate into 2 or 3 updates to cover everything. But first...

"And now, for something completely different!" On occasion I have mentioned my desire to work my way up to scratch building a Chaos titan scale vehicle of some description. For many years the Chaos Defiler kit had planted the seed of an idea that would blend a traditional Imperial titan with an up-scaled Defiler. Now, this is a long term idea that I'm planning for after a nice formation of my Black Legion army are complete; in isolation it would be an amazing build, but too lonely. You need an army to surround something of this scale to do it justice, in my personal opinion. Now that said, my brain is always processing ideas and looking for inspiration and/or materials, and this opportunity was just too perfect to pass up.

The original idea, many years ago, was always to build this mostly from scratch. But without anything to use as a starting substructure the idea was (is) very daunting, to say the least. Now, with the release of the Lord of Skulls and the Imperial Knight kits, I figured they might become a good base to start with, but the scale seemed a bit too small for what I really had in mind. I still have my ideas for those kits, but Hasbro was kind enough to solve my problem in one go; enter the Terradrone. Now, knowing how short-lived some products can be in our fast paced modern times (especially with toys), I got one of these before they almost inevitably stop making them; even if it has to sit on a shelf for a while, it's now just waiting to go.

Easily large enough to properly stomp on a Rhino; Santa brought me this for Christmas with strict instructions that it be transformed into a Chaos war machine, so who am I to argue?

As a proper toy it's actually a little underwhelming; it's not very fast moving and its rate-of-fire is somewhat slow. But, it is surprisingly accurate in its movement, nicely articulated in the legs, plus reasonably solid feeling in its build construction. Ultimately it's going to be used mostly as a static model that will have the benefit of being able to change pose, and the added novelty of being able to walk, even if it won't likely do it very often.

Who am I kidding, once it's done I'll play with it all the time! "Die Imperial lap-dogs!" *stomp stomp stomp* "Cannon charging!"... Errr... heh... did I say that out loud? *smiles sheepishly*

It's still a massive build, but having this to use as a substructure will greatly reduce the design work needed to make it real. I've got a good idea how I'll be adding armour plates to skin the legs and totally transform the look of it; it only has two legs (each repeated 3 times) so I can build limited prototypes and cast enough to go around. The upper 'body' is another story completely, and will require much more consideration; it does tilt to shoot farther (indirect fire!) but I'm not sure if or how I will take advantage of that.

For now it's enough to have a solid starting form to work with, and I can just concentrate on doing the legs; there's plenty of time to give proper consideration to how the top will look and function. The top is actually totally modular and easily removable (useful for storage and transport) so it can really be considered separately; it might even open the door to having different upper bodies for different variations of the final model.

I have no idea at what pace this will take form, but expect it to turn up, looking considerably different, at some point in the future. It's going to be an ambitious build, even with such a wonderful starting substructure, but it's also going to be such a great centerpiece to the army I'm looking forward to the challenge it will be. It's one of those projects that has such a great metal image, I'm driven to see it made real. Until I can start a proper build, it will be an excellent sketching subject, so expect to see some of those soon enough; I can make them part of my college sketching requirements, so the effort can be useful in more than one way. :)

Funny thing about finishing a prototype. Once the parts are complete, it's still not really complete. Now it needs to be setup for moulds.

The swapping plates to move the sponson between the from and rear positions is added complexity to the build, and that will add to the number of moulds; but, it's a straight forward idea that's worth the effort to explore. Time to take the parts and wrap them in some rubber. But first, vents, lots of vents.

The Chop-It and Sand-It from Micro-Mark are perfect for making the many repeating bits needed for making lots of vents.

The double doors of the center armour components create a dead zone between them; as you fill the object in the mould, bubbles can get caught in between the doors. Without vents there's nothing to keep the bubbles moving to force them out. Even with the vents it can be a spot prone to catching annoying bubbles.

Ooo... pink. Slaanesh should be proud. I've changed the rubber that I've been making my newest moulds from, and that's a subject unto itself for another post.

Some in-progress pictures of me making moulds. As always, I make my moulds with generous wall thicknesses; the thicker the mould, the more resistant to warping it is. Deep locking pins mean the mould locks together very tightly, and with just a rubber band to wrap and hold the mould together it's ready to cast with.

Resin casting is an almost addictive process; it's always a downright gratifying experience to see what was once parts and pieces held together with glue and epoxy turn into solid pieces of clean plastic.

The very first casts of a new mould. Mmm... yeah, that's the good stuff. As each new mould was completed the kit was finally able to take form...

Loricatus Mk.II Pattern Heavy Armour kit - The Dark Works 2015.

So, the moulds are complete, and have now cured for a few days so they can start producing soon... but, there's an unexpected catch. There seems to be a small issue with how the parts are curing and it's effecting the fit of the modular center plate used to swap the sponson; where it was quite tight in the styrene prototype build, it is slightly looser in the final resin cast. As I said earlier, while there is a slight change in the fit, maybe I'm being too critical. It took me very little effort to fix it by physically altering the part, and it could also be filled with the greensuff that will be inevitable to make the parts seamless either way.

So, maybe I need some outside perspective and input; I'll take some pictures of the issue and see what the public thinks of it. There are solutions, but with the labour and materials invested in the kit so far, I want to temper my desire to produce top quality kit with being realistic. Let me get my next article worked up, and you'll better see what I'm talking about. A picture (or several) is worth a thousand words, and all that.

On a related side note; once this kit is finished and photographed for The Dark Works product shots, I will be finally assembling and painting this Land Raider model. After being in my collection for 3+ years and being used to make three different resin kits, I think it's done enough work and deserves to go to pasture, as it were. I'm very pleased with the idea of even priming this model after seeing it grey for all these years; it will be downright surreal to see it with colour on it. I can't wait. And once it's done it will give me an excuse to do some Terminators to put in it... someday...

Thanks for reading. As always, speak and be heard! Comments, questions, input, and feedback are always welcome.
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Loricatus Mk.II Pattern Heavy Armour, part 2

It's been mentioned in other corners of the interweb that I'm very open in documenting and showing what I do. I hope that my efforts at transparency are obvious, as it's a very conscious effort on my part. I know exactly what I want to produce, and it's nothing but the best that my skills can muster, so I have nothing to hide. So, if I've got nothing to hide, why not show what I'm doing to enlighten those who might be interested? Some might want to know because they want to try for themselves (I know I'm always looking for well presented 'how it's done' content, so I can't be alone) and some might just want to see how it's done out of more casual curiosity. Either way, I have a knack for it, people seem to appreciate it, and I like the progressive documentation, so I have no problem letting you all peer in on my workbench. I'm sure if I'm constantly learning new things as I work, others out there will appreciate the oppertunity to learn along with me.

The new Mk.II kit uses a modular plate to select the orientation of the door and sponson. It's also the feature that's teaching me a lesson in resin casting.

This idea came to me after I made my first Land Raider Armour kit, so it's only available on the new kit. As the Mk.I moulds age it's only a matter of time before they need to be replaced; I might add a second center plate to add this option to that kit in the future, but for now the Mk.I kit only comes in the single (Sponsons forward, doors back) configuration. I've also already got a good idea for a Mk.III that I really like, but that's getting ahead of myself.

I always build with accuracy and precision in mind and in this case I was very particular about the fit of the swapping center plate.

Every detail of a prototype, good or bad, will be replicated in the copy; time and care taken in the build will pay off in the final product. In this case I knew that a slight gap between the plate and trim was inevitable. I still tried to make it as tight as possible so it will take as little effort as possible to fill to make it seamless. The idea was that it should fit so snugly that the part will align itself with little effort.

Not all parts are created equal when you're casting in resin, and these parts prove the point.

After casting everything looks good, but the fit has changed ever-so-slightly. Where the plate was very snug in the prototype, it's become slightly looser in the casting. From what I can tell the change in thickness of the area where the plate sits compared to the plate itself made the parts cure and shrink differently; the base was much thinner (0.75mm) so it shrank very little and the plate is thicker (2.25mm) that part shrank more during curing. In the end, the gap is a fraction of a millimeter wider, so it's not a huge deal but it's annoying when I was trying so hard to make it to a tighter tolerance.

Not my preferred solution, but dealing with the gap isn't that difficult.

After sleeping on it and considering some of the fit issues I've had with Forge World models, I've come to the conclusion that I am being critical. I want to make top-notch kits, but I need to temper that with being realistic. Since a bit of greenstuff will be needed even if the fit is really good, it could easily fill the gap with no modification. I've been able to close the gap by making a few cuts in the base plate, filing a bit of resin away, and gluing it down as normal. With the top plate in place you'd never know the difference.

Much more clean-lined than the Mk.I Armour kit, the open areas of the Loricatus Mk.II Armour kit are just begging for some freehand mural painting.

Beyond that minor unexpected issue that I've shown here the rest of the kit is casting near flawlessly; sharp details, perfectly straight lines, absolutely flat panels, and wonderfully tight fit, all as it should be. I'll be flipping the switch on them for my shop in the next day or two after I get a few last things sorted out. I've got a first batch cast up and they've cured for 36+ hours, so they're ready to go. I like to let my resin cure for 48 hours at the minimum before I consider packing or shipping so it's reached full hardness. Resin goes through distinct stages as it cures; first it's soft like toffy, then it goes hard with a bit of flex/bend (best time to de-mould an object), then it reaches full hardness but becomes very brittle (very easy to break items), and then it cures to the final blend of tough, rigid, and slightly flexible. 24 hours is usually enough to get a full cure, but I like the extra time as the material data literature takes all its measures (flex strength, hardness, shrinkage, etc.) after 48 hours, so it seems a safe bet there's a reason, and I use the same window as an acceptable cure time.

It also dawned on me over the last few days, as I was looking at some pictures of vehicle variants, this kit would make a prefect base for my take on an official FW Mk.IIb Land Raider. The modular plates could easily be changed into sponson enclosures like that of the FW Mk.IIb; and it wouldn't even require a change in the base armour plate to make them fit. Yep, I think the Mk.III might just have to consider that...
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